CICO Diet 2023

Understanding the CICO Diet: Thoughts of a  Dietitian

For those who have ventured into weight loss journeys, the “calories in, calories out” (CICO) principle is likely a familiar one. When it comes to managing weight effectively, various diet strategies have emerged over time. One such approach that has gained popularity is the CICO diet, which stands for “Calories In, Calories Out.” This diet focuses on the fundamental principle that weight loss or gain is primarily determined by the balance between the calories you intake and the calories you burn.

What is the CICO Diet?

It revolves around a straightforward concept: the calories you consume through food and beverages should be balanced by the calories you burn through daily activities and bodily functions. This balance ultimately determines whether you’ll lose, maintain, or gain weight.

The Science Behind

At its core, this diet is based on the principle of thermodynamics. If you consistently consume more calories than your body expends, the excess calories are stored as fat, leading to weight gain. Conversely, if you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body taps into its fat reserves, resulting in weight loss.

The Role of Metabolism

Metabolism plays a crucial role in the CICO equation. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) represents the calories your body needs to maintain basic functions at rest. Your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) includes BMR along with calories burned through physical activity.

 Counting Calories: How It Works

Calculating Your BMR (Basal metabolic rate)

Your BMR is the foundation of your caloric needs. It’s shaped by elements like age, gender, body weight, and height. Numerous online calculators can help you estimate your BMR accurately.

Determining Your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure)

To create an effective caloric intake plan, you must calculate your TDEE, which accounts for your activity level. This provides a more accurate estimate of how many calories you need daily.

Tracking Calories Accurately

Using mobile apps or journals can help you track your caloric intake accurately. Be diligent in recording portion sizes and ingredients to maintain precision.

The Psychological Aspect of CICO

This diet is not just about physical changes; it also impacts your mindset. Practice self-compassion and maintain a positive attitude throughout your journey.

How It Works

This diet revolves around the idea that if you consume fewer calories than your body expends, you will lose weight. It encourages you to keep track of both the calories you consume and the calories you burn through physical activity.

Pros of the CICO Diet

Scientific Foundation

This diet is grounded in the fundamental principles of thermodynamics – the balance between energy intake and expenditure. This scientific basis lends credibility to its effectiveness for weight management.

No Food Restrictions

Unlike many fad diets, this diet doesn’t restrict you from enjoying your favorite foods. It emphasizes moderation and portion control instead of complete elimination.

Customizable Approach

Since the CICO diet doesn’t prescribe specific meals or foods, it can be tailored to individual preferences and dietary restrictions. This makes it a more sustainable option for a diverse range of people.

Focus on Awareness

By tracking your calories in and out, this diet promotes mindfulness about your eating and exercise habits. This awareness can lead to better choices and improved self-control.

Cons of the CICO Diet

Simplistic View of Nutrition

While calorie counting is important, solely focusing on calories can lead to neglecting the nutritional quality of foods. Nutrient-rich foods are essential for overall health, and this diet may not adequately address this aspect.

Potential for Obsession

Constantly monitoring calories and aiming for a specific caloric deficit can lead to an unhealthy obsession with food and weight.

Ignoring Metabolism Variability

Individuals have different metabolic rates, and this diet may not consider these variations. Some people might find it challenging to create the desired calorie deficit due to their unique metabolism.

Lack of Long-Term Sustainability

For some, tracking calories meticulously might become tiresome over time. The strictness of this diet could make it difficult to sustain as a lifestyle, leading to weight regain once old habits resurface.


1-Is the CICO diet suitable for everyone?

This diet can be tailored to different preferences and restrictions, but it’s advisable to consult a medical professional before making significant changes to your diet.

2-Am I free to consume any food I desire while following the CICO diet?

While the this diet doesn’t impose restrictions on specific foods, it’s important to prioritize foods that are rich in nutrients for overall health.

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